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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Budget Issues at Schools

A request was made for a thread on budget issues at your school. What's happening on this front at your school?

116 comments:

whittier07 said...

I've heard/seen in different posts that schools in the NW & NE have been told that their PTAs cannot "buy down" class size next year but both Montlake & McGilvra have indicated on their tours that they will still be able to "buy down" class size next year ... HOW???

anonymous said...

Someone explained it on another thread. I haven't verified it for accuracy but I will repeat what was posted. Montlake and McGilvra will take in the amount of students that fill their building to it's functional capacity - just like every other school. Then they will buy additional teachers with PTA money and divide their classes. In other words they will serve the appropriate number of kids but with smaller class sizes. Thornton Creek did this one year. They hired an extra teacher, and then they split all 3-5th grade students into small math groups. It worked wonders.

Josh Hayes said...

adhoc, this makes no sense to me.

How can you "buy additional teachers" when you're already at functional capacity -- that is, every available classroom is full? Where do you put additional teachers?

I thought the idea was that functional capacity is how many kids you can cram into a school building. I assumed this meant that all classrooms were full, but maybe not?

north seattle mom said...

McGilvra does Art in the hallway. I doubt the hallway was in the functional capacity but it seems to work for them.

Eric B said...

I don't understand as well. The number of students that come to a school is not determined by the school, it is determined at the JSC. They can throw as many kids as they want to at a school and say "just deal with it." That is what happened at my daughter's school last year, to the point of violating the SEA contract. They had 3 classrooms at 30 kids each in one grade band. At that point, according to the SEA contract, they were supposed to get support or the teachers were supposed to get additional funds. But when this was requested, they were told that that had to come out of the building budget, which had already been spent. Since we went to weighted staffing, the resources didn't follow these students. It is CRAZY. So if your PTSA buys an additional teacher, enrollment services can send an additional 30 kids your way if they want. Will they? Who knows...

Kand4mom said...

Our school's staff refuses to look into this.
I know parents have brought it up at the SPOC meetings.
From what I understand you take all the students the District send you and then in the summer you hire a teacher, maybe a sub who you really like, who has taught at your school, (at our school Allison Cohen would be great) and you give her undesignated space-The Spanish Room maybe?

Free said...

Below are concerns from a TTMinor parent:

First the budget for this new school at Lowell is $139,200 while the budget for T.Marshall Lowell is around $400,000. T.T. Minor children that are supposed to combine with Lowell for a general education population have been informed that they will not be provided with transportation to get to the Lowell building. T.T. Minor students will not be allowed to keep their spectrum curriculum, in it's place is the ALO {Advance Learning Opportunity}.

Can anyone speak to the big budget disparity? Why is TTMinor losing Title One and not Marshall?

anonymous said...

At Thornton Creek, the extra "math" teacher used the stage in the cafeteria as her classroom. She also used the Occupational therapy portable, when it was not in use. No parents complained as we all preferred small class size, even on an open stage, to large class size in a proper classroom space.

Kand4mom said...

Was it a self-contained Spectrum at TT minor? In not, what is the difference between ALO and Non-self contain Spectrum?

seattle citizen said...

Back to the same issue: Why is it equitable for the schools that can fund rasie more to have more staff?

If they cut funding further, and some schools ask for more from their stakeholders, I could see a situation where schools in low-income areas have ten staff members for 300 students and those that can raise more money have twenty staff for 300 students...

Yes, this is an exaggeration, but you see my point?

1/30 for those that are truly publicly funded, 1/15 for those that have an "active" (and wealthier) support system in their neigborhood.

hmmm

seattle citizen said...

The state and the district taxpayers should fully fund all schools equitably, rather than allow some public schools to become semi-private schools.

No FTE purchases by non-district entitites benefiting just one school; fundraising benefits all schools.

Ideally. In a just world. Or maybe the wealthy should just have more, thus perpetuating that particular cycle...(here's the cycle: Wealth = opportunity for wealth's children = wealthy children learning more = wealth for them = more opportunity for THEIR children...etc ad infinitum ad astra)


WV has learned our ex-presidents more relaxed, post-presidency nickname: Bushio. Who, not incidentally, was a product of that very same cycle (minus the "learning more" part)

seattle citizen said...

In "that particular cycle," we see not only the perpetuation of the achievement gap, but a widening of the gap:
Baseline (poor) students get the same ol', same ol': a minimum standard, basically unchanging (or worsening as budgets crunch). Meanwhile, generations of wealthier children build, incrementally, on the knowledge gained with additional resources: They have more opportunity PLUS the higher education level of their parents. In this vague analysis, each successive generation (of those who can afford this "enrichment" - there's an apt name for these benefits) learns even more by building on the knowledge base of those before. Meanwhile, the poor are "maintained" at a baseline status quo.

Some of us prefer to use the term "opportunity gap" instead of "achievement gap" for this very reason.

TechyMom said...

The additional teachers at Montlake don't have classrooms. They take 1/3 of each class for reading and math, reducing the ratios for those subjects. They use hallways, the library, the art room, etc. The classes are normal sized (25-32, depending on grade level) for other subjects.

At McGilvra, they added portables and converted some PCP spaces (I think) quite some time ago. They have two classes of 22-25 at each grade, where they used to have one bigger class at each grade. The PTA pays for this (or maybe part of it, I don't remember the details). The PTA also funds art, field trips, and after school classes. They have more total kids now than they did before they PTA started funding teachers. I'm not sure who paid for the portables, but they are there now and paid for. McGilvra has a lot of land, so they have room for the portables where some of the north end schools do not.

anonymous said...

Yes, Seattle Citizen everyone should get exactly the same thing. Nobody should have any more than anyone else. That is fair.

Since your income (with your Masters Degree) is likely much higher than the income of someone receiving public assistance, I think we should take it away form you so you don't have any more than anyone else. That would be fair.

And while we are at it, your car is probably in much better shape than folks on public assistance, I think we should take your car from you too, and we'll replace it with an old beater or a bus pass. That would be fair.

And, if you own your own home, we'll have you sell that too. Why should you have your own home while others live in public housing? That's not fair.

You see where I'm going?

If we are going to level the field, let's level it all around.

Eric B said...

The fact of the matter is that Title I moneys for high FRL percentages far outstrip anything a PTSA can raise. Back in the days of weighted student funding, a Title I school typically got ~ twice the funding of a non-Title I school. The PTSA funding equity "controversy" is a red herring. There are far more important funding and equity issues to worry about.

seattle citizen said...

Sounds good to me, adhoc! Share the wealth! Except they'll have to pry my li'l sportscar from my cold, dead fingers...

Seriously, tho'...We're talking about equity in the services provided in public schools. No one said anything about taking my boy-racer from me (whew!). I'm suggesting that public schools be funded equitably, that they be fully funded by all taxpayers, so we don't end up with inequity. Is that so bad?

If we reverse your ominous scenario, we have this:
Yes, those with money should keep it, and they should be allowed to lavish their ample funds on their children alone (not those OTHER children). They should be allowed to participate in that wonderful (tax-supported) institution called public schools, but they should be able to spend their extra money, not only on cars and houses and whatnot, but on dropping thousands of extra dollars onto their child's public school alone, thereby tailoring it into smoething more like a private school. The best of both worlds, eh? The public pays part of your child's education, and you merely pay a lttle more...They can say they support public school (note the singular, and boy, do they ever! And it's tax-deductible!) while not having to give money to those "other" schools...And they can avoid having to lobby the state for increased educational funding (why bother? It will just be divided equitably amongst schools; if they raise my taxes, my child will see only a slight benefit, while poorer children will see more! What a rip-off!)

I'd sell my beloved car for more equity. I'd sell my house. I'd go broke for it (and have, in some ways)

Would you? Or is it "every man for himself"?

seattle citizen said...

Eric, my understanding of Title One is that it brings students up to a baseline, from a starting point far below. Those students thus served have a greater need for it; they get a bigger slice of the tax pie. Seems fair.

Additional funds provided by external communities for a particular school add benefits above the baseline.

My point is that Title One and PTSA, etc funding serve different functions and aren't comparable: Title one provides equity; local school fundraising goes beyond it.

anonymous said...

"but should they be able to spend their extra money, not only on cars and houses and whatnot, but on dropping thousands of extra dollars onto their child's public school"

Trust me on this one Seattle Citizen, if these families don't drop their money into public schools, they will drop their money into private schools. Be careful what you wish for.

Lets look at this subjectively.

1)We know that the district doesn't adequately fund schools. That is a fact.
2)Wish I may, wish I might, wish upon this star tonight, we know for a fact that there is a budget deficit and that there is **NO** extra money to begin to adequately fund schools.
3)We know that Title I schools receive much more funding (almost double in many cases) than non Title I schools, which equals out to far more $$ than PTA fund raising at even the most affluent schools.
4)We know that these "affluent" schools would be unattractive, bare bones, no frills schools if they didn't have PTA/parent fund raising or the extra Title I funding.
5)We know that these "affluent" families are not just going to accept and tolerate these no frills schools.

So whatcha gonna do???? Whatcha gonna do when these families leave in the droves? You'll have equitable schools alright. Equitably poor and under funded.

PTA's have been fund raising since I was a kid. It's nothing new. It's nothing innovative. And it's not going to go away. Not even in righteous Seattle. Not even with Seattle Citizen at the watch. People want a good education for their children and they are willing to support their kids schools. And, if this district is every crazy enough to ban fundraising families will either find a way around it, or they will leave. They will not simply accept sub par schools.

And no, Seattle families don't want do donate to a big pot. They don't trust the district, nor should they.

AutismMom said...

The McGilvra thing is a huge point in case. They've had their class size reduced by the "we-paid-for-the-portables" special deal. That is, the PTA got a special deal to keep classes at 21 K-5 if they would donate the portables to the district. Then, they've done everything they can to keep all special ed programs out of the building. I went to one meeting where McGilvra parents were saying "we're a neighborhood school and don't really accept people not in our neighborhood." No joke. Of course they didn't mind at all that disabled kids in "their neighborhood", don't get to go to McGilvra. They currently have 10 "socially disabled" kindergarteners, who have always been kicked out after K.

So, what really is this negotiated deal? They've paid for a disability free zone in Madison park with an extremely tiny reference area. PTA's and other private entitites shouldn't get to create zones like that... especially when the deal lives on and on, forever. A few parents spent a few thousand on some portables.... do they get to keep class sizes high everywhere else forever, because of that one time donation? That's right, other school's classes are higher because it is a 0 sum game... the kids who aren't in that class of 21, are in a large class somewhere else. (Madrona down the road has over 30 in most classes) Or, they are in a small school being consolidated.

anonymous said...

You are wrong Autism mom. Schools are no longer allowed to buy down class size. The District will assign to a school, the number of children that the building can hold per their functional capacity. They have to take and accomodate them. Once they are assigned to the school, the school can then hire their own "extra" teachers to reduce class size. But whether they hire a teacher or not, they will still serve the same amount of students. So by McGilvra having smaller class sizes, it does not mean that they serve less kids. Thus it doesn't cause other schools to have larger class sizes.

AutismMom said...

No Adhoc, you've been reading too much blog. McGilvra does have 21 at all grade levels and in every class. I was there this week and saw them with my own eyes. (They have 22 in K because they are counting on them to leave.) And a huge waiting list. People who can fit in the school, at the building are being turned down and sent to Madrona... this year.

They bought it down. Clearly those rooms could hold 30.... just like the hold 30 at my school. ??? You can call it what you like. You can look at it sideways and say... nah, they didn't buy it down. I prefer to call it what it is.

anonymous said...

McGilvra will not be able to buy down class sizes any longer. They will have to serve 288 students as this is their functional capacity. No more, no less.

Once they are assigned their 288 students next year, and they will be assigned 288 students, do not fear, then they can group those students as they see fit. There is nothing wrong with that. THEY BOUGHT two portables with their own PTA funding to support the effort of reducing their class sizes. Who are we to tell them they can't divide their students into smaller groups within their building?

AutismMom said...

Ok Adhoc,
You can see for yourself. Each grade has 42 (2 classes of 21)... fourth and fifth grade drop even lower with 40 (2 classes of 20). Anywhere else, these classes would be filled with 26 - 30. And they are really large, spacious classrooms. No skimping there. Can you imagine a 4th grade class of 20?

Kand4mom said...

Why do they even do school tours at McGilvra????

At my school, this is not the case. We have homeless kids, latch key kids, and we have affluent kids with stay at home parents all in the same classes.

I think it is wonderful to buy-down a grade for the bennifit of all the kids at your school.

I think pointing out that McGilvra, with their million dollar mansions, does this may influence other Staff and PTAs not to even try this. That would be wrong.

We do not need to, nor do we want to influence who gets in to our school. We have many low-income apts in our neighborhood and only a few houses that costs over 500,000K. Most of us live in small houses that average 1000 square feet, many of us rent.

I think anything that helps equal the playing field for even the poorer kids in one school is worth trying.

beansa said...

Why would it be so terrible for all PTA money raised to go into a pot and be divided equally among all schools? The PTA isn't run by SPS is it? So why the trust issue?

Individual school PTA's could still decide how their slice of the pie gets spent, and parents can feel good about the fact that their fundraising efforts benefit all SPS students.

I know it's because parents want to see their fundraising efforts directly benefit their child's school. Or, even more cynically, more affluent parents are afraid that us lazy, poor people will sit back and take advantage of their superior fundraising skills.

I would gladly participate in that kind of system. Of course, I am poor so it would benefit my kid. But I think it would benefit everyone in less tangible ways - like increasing awareness of the issues faced by public schools in Seattle outside of our individual neighborhoods, or the positive character-building experience of doing something to benefit someone less fortunate.

Kand4mom said...

AutismMOm and adhoc,

I think you are saying the same thing.

McGilvra has to serve the kids that get in based on assignment, and their building (not the portable-the District doesn't own them they were purchase by a private non-profit that one of the parents (a non-profit lawyer set up). So unlike other schools the portables don't really count-they are invisible.

After they are given there fill of kids, and outside their budget, they use PTA funds to buy-down their classes and put kids in these extra invisible spaces.

AutismMom, the District isn't giving them the ability to do this, they are doing it with PTA funds, a clever lawyer, and outside of their Budget.

Any school who has the political will, the expertise, the support of the PTA, and the money can do this.

AutismMom said...

Sure they bought the portables. But the portables now belong to the district. And as district property, the district is obligated by fiduciary responsibility to account for the capacity at McGilvra including the the portables, like it does for everything and everyone else. No, you don't get to buy special deals at public institutions... at least not forever.

What if the district were to become so poor... and class sizes everywhere else got to be 75? Things happen, standards change. Should ancient "special deals" just live on forever?

And if there's a whole bunch of new kids coming to McGilvra to fill the place up, great! I'm just pointing out what exists now. I don't know (or know that I believe) what's coming up for next year! I guess we'll all see when the enrollment shakes out.

AutismMom said...

No Kand4mom, it's not a matter of political will or expertise. In the case of McGilvra's portables, they had a legal agreement not to count add that capacity to their enrollment count... and no, that would definitely not fly today by some savvy school. That was negotiated back when every school could operate more independently. If Adhoc says next year's capacity is 288, that means that there are 38 more kids arriving at the McGilvra doorsteps in fall... the deal will be dead. I don't know about the fact of this, one way or the other, but it sounds good to me.

north seattle mom said...

McGilvra's deal was for 20 years. It had an expiration date built into the program. And it was done in an era of wild excess capacity. The district thought they got the best part of the deal at the time because the school was empty.

It was a strategy that worked.

Sahila said...

beansa... it would be an interesting idea to try in this District, in the spirit of encouraging equity...

Have friends whose daughter is in kindergarten at Olympic View... a stone's throw from AS#1...

I toured Olympic View with my friend... loved the building, loved the resources available for the kids, didnt like the principal's answer to one of my questions... a comment from him as to a dominant culture existing in the school and those who did not identity with that having to swallow it... was enough of a red flag for me to take OV off my list of preferences...

BUT... in considering the resources we have at AS#1 for our children and OV's recent spending of $70K in PTA-raised funds just to upgrade the playground... have to say it would be nice if there was some sharing going on from the richer schools to the poorer schools - so that ALL kids get the benefit...

Mercermom said...

Re how McGilvra is able to maintain a lower class size: In 2000, the McGilvra PTSA entered into a contract with the District, in which the PTSA paid $120k for two portables. In exchange, the District agreed that the school's capacity will be calculated as if the portables did not exist. If the District uses the portables for anything other than class-size reduction before 2010, it must pay the PTSA half the amount. If it does it between 2010-20, it must pay 5% x the number of years left in the contract. So in 2010, McGilvra will be in the same boat as every other school; until then, the District has a financial incentive to increase class sizes at other elementary schools while leaving McGilvra alone.

seattle citizen said...

"Trust me on this one Seattle Citizen, if these families don't drop their money into public schools, they will drop their money into private schools. Be careful what you wish for."

Perhaps they can drop their money into SPS as a whole, no strings attached (or merely identified, as, say: FTE addition only). That would suffice and we'd all be happy.

You're right: some families that won't drop their money into public schools might leave. If they can't donate to the common cause, asopposed to merely supporting their own child's education, then maybe it's best if they did.

(yes, WV, on this one I do decla-uh, I must STIOND mah ground!)

north seattle mom said...

You know, I actually do agree with Seattle Citizen some of the time. However, all I can say about your opinions on money and middle class families is that you obviously have never managed a large non-profit. As I have managed large non-profits for much of my adult life, I can say with 100% confidence that the money does not work in the way you describe.

There is nothing worse for a public school system than for the middle class to give up on it or be chased out of it. At that point, you are left with needing to educate the most challenging students with the most limited resources. Washington DC is a perfect example of this issue.

If you speak with principals in the schools that fundraise, they won't talk about the extra money that makes such a difference, they talk about how the kids are easy to educate because they already come to school, clean, fed and ready to work. That is the biggest difference, not the money. The extras are nice but as multiple folks have pointed out already the extras are also a red herring. These schools fundraise well less than 50 cents on the dollar of what less affluent schools already receive in their basic budget.

Chase away the middle class at your peril. Seattle has already done a fine job of this with our shockingly large private school population. SPS is 42% FRL. The school age population of the city is not. If fundraising keeps the middle class in Seattle, encourage more fundraising, not less.

The fundraising that already exists at schools is already a great example of folks with more helping folks with less. The families that donate their time and energy and money to their local schools are typically the families that could either afford private school or at a minimum afford private tutoring to supplement their student. These families choose to direct these funds to the greater good of the 300 - 500 students at their school. They are sharing.

In the case of the playground renovations, they are even sharing with the wider community. The playgrounds outlast the fundraisers and are often used by the larger community outside the school.

A clearinghouse would not help anything or anyone. People give their donation dollars to organizations that they feel an emotional connection of some sort. A clearinghouse would dramatically reduce the amount of funds. Who feels an emotional connection to MGJ and her priorities? I certainly do not.

Sahila said...

A clearing house and giving to something that I feel a connection with are not mutually exclusive fundraising models...

Witness the success of the Susan Komen Foundation, of whose largesse I have been a recipient...

People give to that and the organisation acts as a clearing house for the millions of dollars they attract, around the country...

I am working on establishing a similar model/body to raise funds for non-violence education, shelters etc...

I would hope that the education of our most valuable resource, children, would be a compelling enough story/need to also attract significant philanthropy..,.

As a marketing/PR/fundraising professional, its my contention its all in the story that's told... we dont get enough education dollars because the right story hasnt been told in the right way...

SPS mom said...

To find current year and projected allocations for all schools, go to the SPS website:

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/budget/index.dxml

You will see that AS#1 is going from around $142,000 to $111,000 and losing $46,000 in Title I funds.

TT Minor had an 08/09 budget of $318,000, including $186,00 in Title I funds.

Now that TT Minor is merging with Lowell, those Title I funds will not be available. The 09/10 allocation for Lowell is $148,000.

For Thurgood Marshall, the 09/10 allocation is $409,000, including $241,000 in Title I funds.

anonymous said...

Thank you SPS mom for providing the link to the budget data.

From the link, here is the weighted staffing standard allocations for 6 schools. Three predominantly middle class schools and three predominantly low income schools.

Middle class schools 2009/10 budget allocation:
Thornton Creek 62,036
Wedgewood 88,924
Bryant 97,209

lower income schools 2009/10 budget allocation:
Van Asselt 642,951
Dunlap 504,605
Gatzert 466,196

Enough said....

seattle citizen said...

"Middle class schools 2009/10 budget allocation:
Thornton Creek 62,036
Wedgewood 88,924
Bryant 97,209

lower income schools 2009/10 budget allocation:
Van Asselt 642,951
Dunlap 504,605
Gatzert 466,196"

Someone has to explain to me how this works, what these budget numbers mean. Is this EXTRA budget money, above and beyone baseline FTE, maintainence etc?
I mean, I must be an idiot, but why is a school listed above (TC) with a budget of $62,000? That buys one FTE. Where's the rest of its budget? Is this some Title One funding or something? Schools have budgets upwards of one million dollars, often...where's the rest?

yes, WV, it's getting sworm in here...

seattle citizen said...

Hmmm, I see, the Weighted Staff formula adds money beyond the baseline budget...

I thought this sort of funding was going out the window, that budgets were going to be centrally devised using some other metric...

Where does this additional funding come from? State? Title One?

seattle citizen said...

NS Mom,
I hear what you're saying. I'm being way over-idealistic, and I also believe that, in fact, the rich often get richer. Maybe that's just the way things are.

Yes, if you cut people off from giving, they'll bolt, perhaps. Sigh.

But how 'bout instead of buying FTEs, people just went and camped on the steps of the capitols, state and fed? Why are households buying teachers, and how it this NOT inequitable in a public school system? Yes, maybe it has to be this way...but it sucks.

anonymous said...

"I thought this sort of funding was going out the window, that budgets were going to be centrally devised using some other metric..."

This IS the centrally devised "new" metric. The district started using it two years ago.

In addition to this Weighted staffing funding low income schools receive government Title I funding.

Middle class schools get much less in their weighted staffing budget, and no Title I funding at all.

Don't get me wrong, I totally understand that low income schools NEED both the weighted staffing funding and Title I funding, and I support it 100%. But as you can see this leaves middle class schools to fend for themselves, and well, they have to fund raise. Even the very few, and it is very few, schools that fund raise upwards of $200,000 don't come close to matching what low income schools get in their weighted staffing budget and Title I funding. And lets not forget that only the most wealthy schools fund raise these large amounts of money. Thornton Creek only raises about $45,000 yr, and many/most other middle class schools raise far less.

So when folks talk about fund raising being inequitable or suggest pooling all funds, I get a bit defensive. You can't take everything away from the middle class.

Josh Hayes said...

And a minor note about Title I funding, this year less is available because, hey presto! Poor people aren't poor any more!

Seriously - the threshold value of FRL kids in a school was raised, so even if a school's demographics stay exactly the same this coming year, it could well go from receiving Title I funds to receiving nothing (case in point: AS1).

I never thought of the school district where I went to high school as having an "easy time", but now I wonder: five small elementary schools, one middle school, one high school. That's it. Hard to argue about leveling the high-school playing field when you have only one (and, of course, the ACTUAL playing field there really needed some leveling work.)

We're tackling difficult, long-ingrained issues here, and I'm impressed, and proud, of how civil we've all remained. Thank you all for carrying on a lively discussion on such civilized terms.

SPS mom said...

More budget numbers:

If you look at the Title I money that is being lost next year between school closures and a new FRL threshold (according to the 09/10 allocations, the affected schools are Cooper, AAA, Summit, TT Minor, BF Day, Graham Hill, Sanislo, AS#1, and Broadview)it totals $1.48M.

This is a summation of the 08/09 Title I monies that the specified schools received last year.

anonymous said...

Josh, I don't know how much this will help school that lost their Title I funding, but it's something....

"buildings between 40% and 54.9% FRL are significantly impacted by loss of Title I funds. To partially offset this, the LAP allocation process has been
modified for 2008-09. Buildings that receive Title I funds will no longer receive LAP funds. Schools with a FRL percentage between 40% and 54.9% will receive LAP funds at a significantly enhanced per pupil ratio compared with 2008-09. While this will not completely offset the loss of Title I funds, it will help to mitigate the loss."

Read the whole letter here:

http://www.seattleschools.org
/area/m_news/gold_book_letter.pdf

seattle citizen said...

Thank you, all, for the information about funding.

It makes much more sense now.

However, I would still argue that

a) Title One, etc, is meant to bring struggling students up to, say, a baseline ("average"), while externally generated funds are meant to rise above that.

b) there is, partly because of that, a perception that wealthier schools get extras they buy; equity issues

c) why isn't the education system fully funded, and we if fund out of pocket, is that fair?

anonymous said...

Yes, Seattle Citizen you are right. It is absolutely unfair that families should have to fund basic services out of their own pockets.

Fundraising has historically allowed schools to collect some $$$$ for extra services, like pizza parties, or to take a class roller skating, or to supply some punch and snacks at a school dance. Not so any more. Today, fundraising pays for basic services like full time librarians, recess, counselors, supervisors/monitors, school supplies, art, instrumental music.

On top of fund raising parents at middle class schools even have pay for K. Families are expected to pay between $2000-3000 for Kindergarten if they want full day K.

As you can see Thornton Creek receives a mere $62,036 in weighted staff funding, far far less than the low income schools. And they receive no Title I funding. So parents at Thornton Creek have a few choices. They can accept a no frills, bare bones school, that does not even provide basic services. Or, they can fundraise and create a thriving school community.

What folks sometimes don't realize is just because a school has a low percent of FRE students doesn't mean that school is full of affluent, Mercedes driving parents. Thornton Creek is a very modest, middle class school. They raise about $45,000 or so per year to support their school. That's not much.

seattle citizen said...

Yes, it's kind of strange that Title One does not follow students, but rather schools. As I've noted, there are pockets of poverty, but there are also students all over the district who are FRL.
Why doesn't the funding follow individual students rather than schools? Maybe because it would tie Title One too closely to FRL?

I have no idea.

Charlie Mas said...

The Board needs a policy on accepting private funding - whether it is from the Gates Foundation or the Lafayette PTA. That policy should make a distinction between competitive grants and non-competitive grants (primarily PTA funding). It should set rules on how the money can be spent. Is it okay for a PTA to pay for basic education expenses? Is it okay for a PTA to buy textbooks or furniture? Is it okay for a PTA to fund property maintenance? Is it okay for the Gates Foundation or the Alliance for Education or The New School Foundation to participate in decisions about pedagogy, class size, or hiring?

We need Policy and the Board isn't providing direction.

beansa said...

Didn't the PTA at North Beach pay for the Saxon Math textbooks that they use?

Can any school do that if they're unhappy with the district-provided textbooks & materials? It seems like a lot of power for a PTA to have, but on the other hand it makes NB a very attractive option because their math scores are huge.

I wonder if they'll be able to keep doing Saxon with the push for standardization.

TechyMom said...

Autism Mom,
I have a question. This isn't snarky, I'm just curious... Do you see a problem with what Montlake does, bringing in extra teachers to reduce ratios by taking some kids into the hallway for reading and math?

On McGilvra, not taking special ed kids is not ok with me. If this has affected you personally, I can see why you would be angry with McGilvra. I think that's going to stop next year with the new way special ed kids are assigned, but who knows how anything in this district works in practice.

However, I see that as an entirely separate issue from the portables and funding issue. Maybe I'm misunderstanding what McGilvra does, but as I understand it, the portables and PTA-funded teachers brought the total number of kids in a GRADE from 28-32 to 40-45. To me, that means that more kids get the opportunity to go to this school, and that the reference area is bigger than it would be without the PTA funding. Maybe the district would have added portables and teachers at McGilvra on its own, but I think it's more likely that the district would have just assigned those extra 10 or 15 kids per grade to Madrona, a nice new building with plenty of room, about a mile away.

North End Mom said...

Hi all,

It looks to me like those numbers adhoc found are not the weighted staffing allocations. They are from the "other allocation" numbers in the documents found for each school indexed here:
http://www.seattleschools.org/area/
finance/budget/bluebook/08/index.htm

From what I can tell, some of it is I-728 money, and some is "comp ed." Since comp ed tends to vary per school, and is much larger for the poorer schools, that may be the line for the title 1 monies (and maybe other federal funds?). The budget numbers are from the 2007-08 school year (not the numbers for next year).

Oh, and you can add John Rogers to the list of schools that could have benefited from Title 1 funds at the old cut off (40% Free/reduced lunch). After tetering near the 40% edge for several years, the school came in at 41% this year, but will not receive Title 1 funds, due to the changes in funding baseline.

seattle citizen said...

"as I understand it, the portables and PTA-funded teachers brought the total number of kids in a GRADE from 28-32 to 40-45. To me, that means that more kids get the opportunity to go to this school, and that the reference area is bigger than it would be without the PTA funding."

This seems to say that there were only 180 (6 x 30) students before the extra funding, and 252 after.

This is about a 35% percent increase in students (and staff, if cert FTE was also purchased.)

That's a heck of a lot of a school to be operated on a separate, non-public budget...

anonymous said...

Yes, best not to have the PTA put in their private funds to pay for the portables so the school can accomodate MORE neighborhood kids.

Best to just turn away the kids that would be accomodated by the extra funded portatbles and give them a mandatory assignment to Madrona.

Arggg.

Seattle Citizen, I really have to ask. Do you have a child in SPS? D

BadgerGal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dorothy Neville said...

Just an FYI, since so much talk is of elementary schools and PTSAs. High school seems to have a different model and the result is less information about how much money is raised. For instance, Roosevelt PTSA raises only about $20K in its general fund and uses that to pay for website, newsletter and small grants to classrooms, that sort of thing. However, the total of fund-raising at the school is a lot higher. We have 501c3 booster organizations for band, orchestra, jazz, athletics, science and drama. Then there's the campaign where the proceeds go through the Alliance ($55K-$80K) and PTSA and parents/ASR fund-raise for senior week ($25K-$70K). My very rough guesstimate puts the total raised at maybe $750K or more per year.

I intend to make no judgments about this, I just thought that folks thinking about the issues, especially PTSA fund-raising, ought to consider the way high school is different.

BadgerGal said...

To North End Mom/others

Here are the links to the most recent budget information on the SPS website.

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/budget/purplebook/10/index.dxml

On the left are the 2008/2009 school allocations as well as the 2009/2001 school allocations for comparison.

In addition, this next link takes you to the Title 1 and LAP funding by school. I'm not sure why some of the High Schools with greater than 55% F/R lunch don't get Title 1, does that only go to elementary schools?

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/budget/goldbook/10/index.dxml

To get to the nubmers, click on section III, Program funding allocations.

Any way you look at it, ALL schools are losing funding from this year to the next. By my calculations, those that went from Title 1 qualified to non-qualified are going to be hit the hardest.

As far as PTA fundraising, I know at our school we are not using the dollars to buy down regualary class size but are using monies to fund additional hours of reading specialists, art, music, and ALO. We carefully balance the support so that all kids are served.

BadgerGal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BadgerGal said...

trying this again...the links got cut off above.

seattleschools.org/area/budget/
purplebook/10/index.dxml

seattleschools.org/area/budget/
goldbook/10/index.dxml

Maureen said...

Are Montlake and McGilvra hiring real certificated teachers who work for the District (with benefits etc)? Or do they pay for hourly staff to come in and reduce effective class size for reading and math (for example)?

Montlake's web site lists four teacher names for the 78 kids in K-1. That seems to mean they have a class size of less than 20. TOPS has 106 kids in K-1 with four District paid teachers. That's a class size of more than 26. Both schools have waitlists. It seems like Montlake could cover those 78 kids with three teachers and have the same class size as TOPS. Am I missing something?

(Thanks for the links Badgergirl!)

TechyMom said...

My understand from the tours was that these were certificated FTE teachers. What Montlake is doing seemed pretty similar to what TOPS does with the part-time Kindergarten teacher, but in more grades.

seattle citizen said...

"Yes, best not to have the PTA put in their private funds to pay for the portables so the school can accomodate MORE neighborhood kids.

Best to just turn away the kids that would be accomodated by the extra funded portatbles and give them a mandatory assignment to Madrona.
Seattle Citizen, I really have to ask. Do you have a child in SPS? D"

ALL Seattle's children are "my" children.

You're missing the point: There IS room at Madrona, evidently, and yet we have a school nearby that is substantially funded by external money to pay for portables and FTE certs. Why?

Why do we have a school that is, at a guess, 20 percent private? (given the FTE at 252 students (6x32) and the non-cert staff)

Why isn't this centrally funded? Is it better for the McGilvra parents to just give money to that school, rather than lobby for all schools? Does this impede central fundraising?

Is it okay that some schools can do this and some can't? Is it okay to say, well, parents want to give, and if you stop them...in order that some schools have more and some less?

If no one gave to Madrona (I have no idea) but DID give to McGilvra, wouldn't that just set Madrona up for failure? Those that lived closer to McGilvra could tell the district they'd pay extra to get their child into that school, meanwhile Madrona loses students that otherwise be assigned to it. They lose twice.

arrghhh arrrghh!

TechyMom said...

What sets Madrona up for failure is that the principal is not interested in serving the needs of the families who live in the nieghborhood, and the principal at McGilvra is. Madrona and Madison Park aren't that different demographically.

seattle citizen said...

Techymom, your suggestion that it is leadership that sets a school up for failure (or not, hopefully!) is true, but what about my comments? Does the option of paying extra to ad FTE to one school negatively effect a nearby school (or could it)?

(word verifier says that when two people have an urge to merge, they murge)

seattle citizen said...

Principals, as we know, come and go. What should POLICY be on this, the long-term planning framework?

"Sybillsh," WV? Sybillsh?

TechyMom said...

Any difference between two nearby schools effects the other school in our current open choice system. I like Montlake better than McGilvra because they have a really fabulous technology teacher, Jr. Great Books, and after-school language classes. For me, those are more important than the full-time class size reduction.

I'm not morally opposed to partial private funding. Remember that I'm also considering private school. I'd prefer to see some of my money go into a public school to 1) help the kids at that school who don't have private school as an option 2) take up some of the slack so the public money can be spent on less-fortunate schools. If PTA funding of an individual school was disallowed, I think you'd see more affluent families advocating for a bigger slice of the pie, rather than for a bigger pie, and a spike in enrollment at low-priced Catholic schools. I just don't think disallowing it will do what you think it will. People just don't believe that better funding overall can happen.

dj said...

I agree with Techymom. Honestly, the PTA funding is lovely, but it is less important than building leadership and program.

Madrona is undersubscribed not because of the lack of portables and the larger class sizes, but because of the building leadership and the program at the school. I would put up with slightly bigger class sizes in a heartbeat if you had a TOPS-type program there.

anonymous said...

Madrona is an under enrolled, low performing school. It is not ethnically or socio economically diverse, despite it's very diverse neighborhood. It has a history of poor leadership. And, only 16 families chose it as there first choice school for kindergarten last year. As for performance, only 53% of their 8th graders passed the reading wasl, only 20% passed the math wasl, and only a shocking 2% (yes I said 2%) passed the science wasl.

Now lets compare.

McGilvra is over enrolled, and very high performing. They offer 24 openings at kindergarten and 69 families applied for those seats. They had a waitlist of 45 students last year. 97% of their 5th graders passed the reading wasl, 90% passed the math wasl, and 72% passed the science wasl.

While McGilvra is very succesful and popular, Madrona, in the same neighborhood (literally a few blocks away) has been grossly under performing for years. It has been under enrolled for years. We all wish the district would do something about it - but they don't. They turn the other cheek. They have done absolutely nothing to improve the school. They do not care.

Why would any parent in their right mind send their kid to Madrona?

Perhaps, Seattle Citizen, instead of fighting against fundraising in our schools, you should go head to head with the district and demand that they improve Madrona, and all of the other low performing schools across the district.

anonymous said...

By the way:

Madrona receives $512,599 in their weighted staffing, Lap and Title I funds. They serve 538 students.

McGilvra receives $48,992 for their weighted staffing, and Lap. They get no title I. They serve 245 students.

Madrona receives 5 times more than McGilvra in funding.

The district has forced the middle class schools to fund themselves.

Spend your energy fighting for the district to fully fund all schools. It would be so much more productive than fighting against the parents that are being forced to support their schools via fundraising.

TwinMom2003 said...

To borrow from Monty Python, “And now for something completely different.”

Is it truly the money that a PTSA contributes, or is it something different?

Is it the funding that the district provides to a school, or is it something different?

Is it a big new shiny building, or is it something different?

Is it having schools that are identical in ethnic and economic diversity, or is it something different?

What is it truly that makes a successful school?

I can’t believe there is any one single solution. For beings so complex as the human how could any one item be the one, and the single resolution?

The focus of this and so many other debates is money. Yet, the budget shows that schools that receive the attention of the SE initiative, and schools with a higher percent of FRL actually receive more funding per student than schools that do not. Even the most ambitious PTSA does not equalize this funding gap. So, if money is not the cure all what is?

It seems the approach is to zero in on the low performing schools and then try the same, “we’ve done it before and it doesn’t work – but we’ll go ahead and try it again solutions.” More money, bussing, we’ll make everyone look the same, etc.

Instead of looking at the solution as being from the district down, why not look at a solution from the bottom up? You cannot build a solid structure without a solid foundation, so what is the foundation on which all successful schools are built?

Is there any successful school out there that does not have a robust PTSA? I don’t mean robust in how much money is raised, but in how many people participate and contribute to their school. I don’t know of any – do you?

I think/feel/and believe that the true foundation of a successful school is parent involvement. Sure, the extra monies a PTSA contributes may help ease classroom size or put books in the library. Those are great pluses. But, if a student shows up in the morning, but doesn’t think school/education is important ten thousand books in the library will not make a difference.

But, what if the message a student receives when their parents work hard to raise money for their school, or spend time at night updating the school website, or as a family we go down to the school once a month and pull weeds and rake leaves – that school is important.

What if a parent asking a child about their day at school, answers their questions, reads to them at night, is so happy and pleased when they succeed in school – communicates to them that education is important?

It is these parents and their involvement that form the foundation. It is these students that show up for school wanting to learn and please their parents that can truly form together to form a great and successful school.

I will not deny that not all students have a parent that cares. But, I do believe that for the vast majority their parents do truly care. They may be exhausted, they may be striving for basic survival, but they do truly care but just not know the best way express it. For me, this is where the district would provide a bridge – the caring and aware principal that will try to involve the parents (and show them how) vs. push them away. In this thread the McGilvra vs. the Madrona. The extra training to a teacher to recognize that child that has a parent that doesn’t care - or can’t, for whatever reason, and needs some early caring and intervention.

How powerful is parent involvement? It overcomes differences in all areas – economic and ethnic in balancing the achievement gap. Here are some links…or use your favorite search engine and search, parent involvement and student achievement.

High impact of parent involvement

UNH Study

beansa said...

What in the heck is Madrona spending all that extra money on?

And didn't the Madrona principal just get an award for her outstanding leadership? And the school is failing?

What?

Josh Hayes said...

TwinMom2003, those are all good questions, but really they stand on a single question, namely:

What is a successful school?

I think the answers to that question are about as numerous as people answering. Some regard standardized test results, for instance, as, with all their flaws, good measures of school success. As for me: meh. Not so much.

Involved kids? Sure. Enthusiasm? You bet. Security? Well, one would hope that ALL schools would provide that, right?

Music? Art? PE? Sure. Great. A lot of schools pretty much lack all of those.

And I bet "successful" depends as well on the grade range. I think of a successful K-5 as producing socially intelligent kids who are competent readers, writers, and rithmetickers, who also feel confident in themselves and their abilities. Obviously, for a high school, you'd have different (additional!) goals layered atop: readiness for what comes next, be it college, trade schools, job, government or military service, and so on.

But I guarantee: one person's "successful" school is another person's prison-like nightmare. It's not enough to use terms like that without defining them. I'm not criticizing your approach! I think you're right, but perhaps the most important message here is, "successful" is measured in individual kids, human beings. How many ways are there to be a happy, competent, joyful human being?

anonymous said...

Josh is absolutely right. Seven families on my block go to 6 different public schools in our cluster. We all think our school is superior to the others for one reason or another. And they are, for our kid, and our family.

Sixteen people chose Madrona as their first choice school last year. Those families thought Madrona was superior for their own kids. Perhaps they like the fact that Madrona places a huge emphasis on WASL prep and extra classroom time. Perhaps they like that Madrona does not offer recess, art, etc., after all that gives their kid more time in class to work on academics. A few years ago a group of "white" neighborhood parents enrolled their kids at Madrona and decided to try to improve the school. They asked the Principal to add recess, a garden, art and more PE, but they were run off, by the principal and the existing community. The principal was not interested in enrichment, she (and the community) wanted WASL prep, and more academics.

That would be my sons prison. Yet it was the palace of the families who chose Madrona. They thought Madrona was a "great" school.

So that leads to the question.....if only a handful of families think Madrona is a palace, a "great" school, yet the vast majority of neighborhood families think it a prison, what happens? Who wins? Should the district intervene?

Fifty eight kids were assigned to Madrona for kindergarten, but only 16 chose it as their first choice. That means that the remaining 42 families that were assigned to Madrona did not list it as their first choice school. Many families get a mandatory assignment to Madrona - these families didn't list Madrona as a choice at all on their enrollment application. Some of them were probably families that chose McGilvra but didn't get in?

So in the case of unpopular, traditional schools, where kids can receive a mandatory assigned against, I believe the district should intervene and create an atmosphere at a school that will be appealing to a greater percent of neighborhood families.

This of course wouldn't apply to alt/choice schools as there is no mandatory assignment to alt/choice schools. All of their families choose them, so all families are satisfied.

TechyMom said...

On policy. I think it's de-motivating to a lot of people to have their donations go into a big pot. It's just too hard to see what your money does. If I give $100 that gets spread across 90-some public schools, each only gets a dollar and change. I don't know what my money did. However, if I give $100 to my school or even my child's class, I can see the 10 books it bought or go on the museum trip it paid for.

I do think there's some value in trying to get middle and upper class families to donate to low-income schools. But, it has to be both tangible and for something those families find valuable. More WASL tutoring isn't going to be motivating. Some ideas that might work

1) Sister schools. Every low-income school is paired with a high-income school. Pair the richest with the poorest. Don't pair the middle class schools. Have events where the schools do things together, and where the parents meet the kids at the other school. Have a separate fund-raising drive for things the sister school's PTA identifies it wants.

2) Targeted programs. I'd donate to the district-wide recess fund, to make sure every school can have that extra 15 minutes a days to let kids run around. I'd donate to the all-SPS day at the zoo field trip. I'd donate to the Singapore math training fund, or the Primary IB teacher certification program. I'd be thrilled to fund Jr. Great Books or after-school traditional math on a city-wide basis. You get the idea. I wouldn't donate to a big pot of money controlled by the district. Unless I knew what the money would be used for, I wouldn't donate to a general fund controlled by a city-wide PTA either. Too much risk that politics would cause my money to be spent on something I don't value.

3) City-wide PTA. For me to donate to this, it would have to have very clearly defined projects, and I would have to be able to donate to a specific project. Again, things like teacher training so that new high-quality programs can be set up might make sense to fund this way. However, a lot of people aren't going to want to donate to a big faceless organization. They want to donate to their own community. For many (most) people, their community isn't Seattle, it's their school.

4) Tything. 10% of all PTA donations go to central fund. The trouble with this is that it could be demotivating. It's a small enough amount of money that it probably wouldn't decrease donations too much. However, I wouldn't feel nearly as good about this as about donating to kids I've actually met.

Sister schools combined with city-wide program fundraising seems like it would be most effective mix, in terms of motivating parents to donate. Disallowing donations to individual schools would be the least effective.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I was at a school where we tried to have a sister school PTA relationship. It didn't work because not enough people on the working PTA wanted it, the sister school was far away and the sister school had no PTA to begin with. You have to think in terms of what people are willing to do and their schedules.

"However, a lot of people aren't going to want to donate to a big faceless organization. They want to donate to their own community. For many (most) people, their community isn't Seattle, it's their school."

The Seattle Council PTSA is made up of PTA members from many schools throughout Seattle. Sharon Rodgers, the Council president, is everywhere and works like a crazy person for all Seattle PTAs. Of all organizations, the PTA is not a "big faceless" group - they are moms and dads just like us. There's strength in numbers and if more people either participated/supported the Seattle Council PTSA, it would be a more powerful organization. The district knows that parents are more likely to be paying attention just to their own PTA and so don't have the concern over the numbers that the Seattle Council actually represents.

The way I understand the Portland PTA foundation is that some percentage of local PTA funds goes into this pot. Any school that needs help has to submit an application outlining what the money is for and how they figured out how much they need. The Foundation sees who has received grants in the past and likely does outreach to schools who might need the help but haven't applied. It doesn't have to be political and it could serve a great purpose.

But as has been said, people just want to concentrate on their own schools. Good or bad, that's how it is.

seattle citizen said...

I agree that money is only a small part of a child's education.

That said, I'll repeat what I've written before:
Title One and other extra funds are provided to help struggling students. While it might not be good policy to have whole schools get that money, instead of the identified individual students (some schools get it, others do not, even though all schools have struggling students), these moneys serve the purpose of bring students up to some sort of baseline, and average, a level similar to students withour so much need.

500,000 dollars spread among 500 students (Madrona) is 1000 dollars per student.
1000 divided by $30 (a low average wage/benefit for an adult serving some helping capacity) is 33 hours.

So for that 1000, each of those students might get four hours per month of some sort of assist.

Pretty minimal, if you ask me. That's two hours of tutoring, one hour of counseling, one hour of, say, staffing for breakfast.

Is this something other students (non-FRL) don't get? Yes.

But it merely tries to bring these students up to a level commiserate with "middle class" students.

As a generality (yes, there are exceptions) McGilvra students might be more, as a whole, "middle class"; they don't need these basic supports ($1000 per year) to aide in becoming "average'. They're already there.

Comparing Title One money and PTSA money is apples and oranges.

And, to repeat, I have a philosophical opposition to wealthier parents being able to supplement their school alone. It smacks of elitism, it smacks of inequity. So I will continue to think about this issue, contrary to some people's desire that I "quit fighting it."

anonymous said...

Well said, Techymom!

And all great ideas!

Voluntary fund sharing via tithing, sister schools and targeted programs beats a top down mandate to "share all fundraising" hands down. And in the end it would be much more successful.

It's hard to issue top down mandates like "all school will share all fundraising", when the mandate is for something optional, like fundraising. If families do not think they are getting what they want for their fundraising $$$ they will simply opt out and stop donating. And that would be devastating to everyone involved.

At our sons school we have many fundraising drives that benefit families that are not in our community. We have a penny drive, we have a sister school in Mexico, we have many small, targeted fund raisers in which our kids get to vote on which charity to donate the money to. Our community would be thrilled and willing to contribute to any one of the ideas that Techymom posted above.

seattle citizen said...

It is impossible to stop people from giving to their schools. They will contribute something, bless 'em.

My stance looks at policy, funding and equity. I don't know how it could be enacted (Techymom's suggestions are very good, as is Melissa's advocacy of the city-wide PTSA.

My main concern is not with fund drives for new paint, or activities. It is fundraising for staff and facilties. These should be centrally funded, and if they're not than wealthier people can create enclaves, externally supported public schools that have smalled class sizes, more space, more services to their students. I just don't think this is fair.

I'd rather see the feds, state, city and district take care of their own funding obligations. I fear external funding can lessen the will for this. If they don't take care of the "bear" necessities, then perhaps a central organization such as the city PTSA could do a good job of insuring this equity.

anonymous said...

Seattle Citizen perhaps you should do a little research? Find out exactly how much fundraising McGilvra does, and then find out exactly what they use that money to buy. Then take that money and all of the services that it buys away from them - and see what's left.

See what the school has to offer to it's students with it's meager $39k in weighted staffing funds, 3K in Lap funds, and 0 Title I funds.

Then report back with your findings. What does the school looks like without these funds?

Does it have classroom supplies, a homework center, tutors, instrumental music, artists in residence, a math club, a full time librarian, a recess supervisor, a school councilor, a lunch fund for kids who forgot their lunch money, art supplies, field trips (did you know schools have to pay for yellow buses for field trips)????

Schools like Madrona can choose to purchase these services with their "extra" weighted staffing $$$, with their Title I funds and wit their Lap funds.

Schools like McGilvra, that do not receive the "extra" funding would not be able to purchase these services if not for fundraising.

Do you really, I mean really, think that's fair????

anonymous said...

"I'd rather see the feds, state, city and district take care of their own funding obligations."

We'd all rather see this Seattle Citizen, but wish I may, wish I might, wish upon this star tonight - it ain't happening. There is no money to make it happen. The District has a huge deficit. The state has a huge deficit. The country has a huge deficit. Our economy is in the toilet.

We have to think in realistic terms. Realistically, our schools will not be adequately funded, at least anytime in the near future. It's sad, but it's a fact.

It is up to middle class families to fund middle class schools, via fundraising, at least for right now.

We can advocate for better funding, we can continue to fight for it, but in the meantime we have to make sure that our kids are able to receive an adequate education.

If you see a kid in a lake drowning, do you jump in and save him, or do you call 911 and wait 7 minutes for the fire department to arrive, while the kid drowns?

I'm jumping in to save our kids. I'm throwing them a life ring. I refuse to let our kids drown, and I greatly resent people who try to force me to.

seattle citizen said...

Schools like Madrona can also purchase some of these things because of economies of scale.

Madrona has twice as many students as McGilvra.

Should both have a 1.0 FTE librarian?

In this economy of scale, Madrona serves twice as many students with its librarian than does McGilvra.

You ask me to "do the research": I will, once you have reported back to us what deficits Title One Money aims to reduce: What is the dollar amount needed to help a student with only one parent? With BOTH parents addicted to something? Whose parents don't speak English? Whose mother is in jail? The five-year old whose mother is twenty, both living with HER mother, whose husband is on the street every day looking for work?
How much money does it take to alleviate these circumstances? Is $1000 enough?
"Then take that money and all of the services that it buys away from them - and see what's left."
Deal?

anonymous said...

I give up, Seattle Citizen. Once again, we agree to disagree.

seattle citizen said...

"We have to think in realistic terms. Realistically, our schools will not be adequately funded, at least anytime in the near future. It's sad, but it's a fact."

Why is it a fact that there won't be enough money? It's a question of priorities. The economy is rebounding already, some say, and at a federal level there is money spent in lots of wrong places that could be redirected.

"It is up to middle class families to fund middle class schools, via fundraising, at least for right now."

And so it's up to the poor families to fund poor schools?

Great.

seattle citizen said...

Never give up, adhoc. This is a long-term effort to protect and build better public schools for everybody.
But a break now and then might be in order.
Peace, adhoc!
lux et veritas to you and yours...

TechyMom said...

I'm not sure the economies of scale actually work. One of the things I don't like about Madrona is that it's too big. So is Stevens. I like Montlake because it's so tiny. I liked MLK before they closed it. I donated several thousand dollars to their Montessori, when my kid was still a baby. If tiny MLK was still there I would have enrolled her there, walked her to school, continued donating, and not spent the last 9 months on this blog. BECAUSE it was small. But, I digress.

So, yes, I think a school with 200-some kids should have a librarian. I also think that most elementary schools should be between 200-250 kids. Two classes of 22-25 per grade.

seattle citizen said...

I agree with you on class size and librarian. But economies of scale DO work,sometimes: technology can be more effectively utilized, and some staff can be more effectively utilized if there is an optimum number.
Of course students aren't widgets, but the production model illuminates this economy: use a machine (or a library, or a teacher)to its fullest to get maximum potential. But don't OVERwork it; it'll explode, scattering pieces everywhere!

anonymous said...

Seattle Cit asks.....and so it's up to the poor families to fund poor schools?

Um, did you miss the numbers? Madrona is funded 5 times greater than Mcgilvra, per capita. So the answer to your question is no, it is not up to poor families to fund poor schools. Our district funds poor schools, heavily. They do not fund middle class schools, and that's a problem.

Rose M said...

Seattle Citizen,

Are you saying that school budgets should be balanced according to academic outcome. That schools with lower academic outcomes should get more & more of the budget pie & schools with higher academic outcomes should get less & less of the budget pie until their outcomes are the same?

What would that look like? Would making sure that one school had no money for library, playground monitor, fieldtrips, copy paper, be enough to equalize the academic outcomes? Or would it have to go further? How much of a budget offset would it take to make up the difference in what kids get at home?

BadgerGal said...

Adhoc,
Thank you for your perspective. I happen to agree - if you look at the links I posted yesterday, you will see that Title 1 funds DWARF the amount that most PTAs raise. These funds are on top of the Weighted Staffing funds from the district, which provides for FTEs and discretionary funding, which is fairly even between schools based on enrollment.

seattleschools.org/area/budget/
purplebook/10/index.dxml

seattleschools.org/area/budget/
goldbook/10/index.dxml


And I disagree with Seattle Citizen that Title 1 funds are meant to bring the poor schools up a level even with other schools. The current Weighted Staffing Standards (WSS) do that by providing equal staffing and funding based on enrollment bands.

To Ad Hoc's point, at the elementary school my children attend, with just the money provided by WSS and Lap and no Title 1 funding, we would NOT have enough: Reading specialists, math specialists, art, performing arts, library beyond 1/2 day a week, tech support for classroom teachers, a head teacher to assist our principal with 470 students and 30 staff to support all of our kids...these are just the big items.

The PTA at our school helps to fund staffing so our school can offers more than just basic classroom instruction. That is what our school community wants to do with the funds raised. We do not buy down class size, our class sizes are 28 for the upper grades, 26 for the lower grades.

I struggle to figure out how this is creating an elitist enclave? We are struggling for the basics, unless you don't agree that reading and math support, library, and art are basics. And we are very deliberate in ensuring that the staffing we do fund helps all kids at the school, across the capability spectrum.

If PTA funds are pooled or we cannot use them to make up for the large gaps in what the WSS provides for, I personnally will stop giving and move to another district (we cannot afford private school). I have spoken with many other parents who agree.

I do agree that the state should be funding all of this. If you agree, call your state legislator TODAY and ask them to support the bill of intent for education funding - they will vote tomorrow on a framework for funding that will set the stage.

And as for the idea of pairing the "very rich" schools with the "very poor" schools, I would agree IF AND ONLY IF you take into consideration the ENTIRE set of money a school recieves on a per student basis. I have done this math for every elementary school in Seattle. What happens? The schools who recieve Title 1 funds are the richest (don't believe me? do the math yourself using the links above)and they would be paired with the schools in the middle (the ones in the 40-55% F/R Lunch range that just lost several $100k a year in funding with the % level being raised). The "rich neighborhood" elementary schools, even with a generous assumption on my part of $150,000 in PTA funding, fall in the middle to low end of the per student funding range.

seattle citizen said...

If Title One is not serving to "bring up" struggling students, BadgerGirl, what is tbe purpose? Title one is an additional support to WSS (Or I should say that WSS is additional: Title one is "mandatory", a federal support, while WSS is "merely" a district decision (or state, I'm not sure)

Regardless, both are supports to assist struggling students (ostensible: as I've said, the way they are distributed is odd - why doesn't the Title One fund follow the identified Title One student?)

I have no idea what a "balanced" funding distribution would look like. I just don't like the inequity of some schools apparently getting more (ASIDE from necessary support money like Title One, etc) because their communities can give more. It doesn't seem fair, and has the appearance of elitism, even if it's somehow not.

Appearances mean a lot. The French (if I can drag them into this again) learned this with Marie Antoinette's "let them eat cake" comment. Not prudent at that juncture. Purely from a self-interest perspective, if those with money flaunt it, or foster, somehow, the appearance of inequity, those without will be very, very upset.

Most economists recognize this social salve, and suggest making sure "the masses" have adequate living conditions. This also suggest that the "haves" not foster the appearance of "having more."

g said...

I hate to break it to you but small schools (physical size) are on their way out in this district. Every elementary is built bigger and will continue to be. That said, we have many smaller buildings and it is unlikely we will get to all of them anytime soon. So we will have some small schools. But those small schools in truly bad buildings (read: McGilvra and Montlake, for example), are either targets for larger rebuilds or closure if the site is not big enough to build a bigger school. (Interestingly, Montlake, when they were fleetingly suggested for closure, had an online survey for parents. One of the hypothetical questions was something like "Would you be willing to fundraise/give funds towards rebuilding Montlake?")

That is the direction Facilities is going with no restraint from any Board.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sorry that was me; wrong account.

seattle citizen said...

Thanks for being ACCOUNTable, Melissa!

TechyMom said...

Oh, I know small schools are on the way out. And I think it's a really bad idea. I like Montlake, don't much like Stevens. I'm actually making a public-private decision today, and this is one of the things pushing me towards private. SPS, are you listening? Didn't think so.

seattle citizen said...

I haven’t had a chance to find out the various funding agencies for each school, and what those funds go to, but here is a synthesis of information found on both school’s websites and in their reports. I do not intend to pick on either school by so reporting (as requested) but feel that the comparison is illustrative of the issue we are addressing.

McGilvra

Here are the fisrt words that appear on their website when opened:

“CURRENT MCGILVRA NEWS

OUR ANNUAL FUND NEEDS YOU!
So far, 56 percent of our families have given, bringing us closer to our goal of $175,000….$1,110 [is] the per student cost of PTA enrichment this year…”

We want to be able to say to school district officials looking for smaller schools to close that we have a united, dedicated parent community. Your PTA membership, volunteer hours and donations make that statement loudly.”

First words on Annual Fund page of that website:
“Your donations to the McGilvra Annual Fund make it possible for us to pay for three full time teachers as well as our art and music teachers. They ensure that McGilvra has just 21 students in each classroom, some of the smallest class sizes in the state.”

From the Annual Fund Mission Page:
“Where does the money go?
Teacher Grants (class size reduction, art, computer, & music) $227,500
Teacher Innovation Grants - $15,000
Writing Program - $10,000
Capital Improvements - $25,000
Total Expenses $277,500…
…Our dream is for every family to participate this year in the Annual Fund, and to reach our financial target of $175,000. To cover the cost of the additional teachers and enrichment programs at our school, our PTA will pay $1,110 per child to the district.

Total Enrollment 250
Returning Students 84.6%
First Choice 75.0%
Area Residents 49.6%
Asian 12.4% 31
African American 7.6% 19
Hispanic 5.2% 13
Native American 1.2% 3
White 73.6%
Free or Reduced Lunch 7.6% 19
Not Living with Both Parents 13.6% 34
Non-English Speaker 2.8% 7
Bilingual Eligible & Served 0.0% 0
Bilingual Eligible 1.2%
Total Special Ed. 13.2% 33
Level 2 51.5% 17
Level 4b 27.3% 9
Therapy 21.2%


Madrona:
Here are some things from their website that probably cost money:

Strategies for Success
Wednesdays 6-8 PM, open library, computers for student and family use. Teachers, staff and community volunteers are available for homework and technology help, a light dinner is served…
Achiever’s Club
homework program, three or four afternoons per week as part of our after school enrichment program….Teachers
and community volunteers staff this program.
Tutoring
If you feel your student needs additional 1:1 time with a tutor, please speak with
the classroom teacher. Please note that students do not receive tutoring during
regular academic time.
Middle School OST (Out of School Time) Program
…designed to provide middle school students with safe, structured, and enriching classes after school. OST is funded by the Families and Education Levy. Examples of past classes are Spanish, cooking, drawing, and drama. School staff, professional artists, or volunteers teach classes from the community.
Elementary After School Program
After school activities for elementary children are funded by Panther Partners
(PTSA) and have previously included drama, dance, hair braiding, ceramics and
drill team.


Here are their demographics:
Total Enrollment 411
Returning Students 68.8%
First Choice 25.5%
Area Residents 21.7%
Asian 3.2% 13
African American 74.9% 308
Hispanic 8.5% 35
Native American 4.4% 18
White 9.0%
Free or Reduced Lunch 70.8% 291
Not Living with Both Parents 66.7% 274
Non-English Speaker 7.8% 32
Bilingual Eligible & Served 0.5% 2
Bilingual Eligible 4.4%
Total Special Ed. 17.8% 73
Level 2 64.4% 47
Level 3 12.3% 9
Level 4b 5.5% 4
Therapy 17.8%

BadgerGal said...

Seattle Citizen,

I understand that Title 1 is supposed to help make up for horrible circumstances beyond the kid's control. I don't at all begrudge schools their Title 1 money to help the students as needed to bring them up to a "level" with others.

However, your mistake is in assuming that by raising PTA funds to support staffing, "PTA schools" are somehow "getting more" than the Title 1 schools. Based on what you have written so far, I believe you think that non-Title one schools are fully funded country club estates that PTA fundraising takes to a whole new level.

Au contraire, these PTA funds often bring our schools to the same level that Title 1 gets others schools to in terms of staffing, programs, etc.

I don't mind if you count the money, just count ALL of the money. And THEN, be sure to look at what that money buys. Then decide if there is some elitist flaunting of wealth going on.

I don't count using PTA funds to support struggling readers and those students struggling with math as elitist flaunting of money. I don't count ensuring that as many programs such as art and instrumental music or art are provided during the school day as elitist. In many ways, these programs benefit those who can least afford it most. If they are removed from the school day, the parents at the school who can afford it will take their kids to Kumon or where ever, leaving the rest to suffer. By giving the money to the school's PTA, all benefit.

To answer your question about why doesn't the money follow the students... it used to until last year. We had Weighted Student Funding, where each child was "worth" a certain amount to a school for resources (F/R lunch qualified students were worth more than a regular student)

Now, with weighted staffing standards, the schools are placed in bands based on enrollment. So if a band is 300-460 students (I don't know the exact numbers), all schools in that enrollment band essentially get the same, even though one has 160 more students. It creates a nightmare for schools like mine that are at the upper end of enrollment bands. Smaller schools get more on a per pupil basis.

BadgerGal said...

Seattle Citizen,

Thanks for the post. These are stark contrasts and I can understand why you have the questions and concerns that you have.

I can't speak for McGilvra - we can only dream of class sizes of 21 at our school for any grade level.

But please realize that not all PTAs that raise money for staffing are in the same situation as McGilvra.

TechyMom said...

Oh, I'll add that I LIKE the older buildings. I'm actively seeking an older building. I find them to be much more attractive and plesant environments than the newer buildings. The cute old building is one of the things I prefer about Montlake. Not the target market, I guess...

Kand4mom said...

How many K-5 have a full time librarian?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Seattle Citizen, I didn't think much could make my jaw-drop but over $1,000 per kid for PTA fundraising? Good for McGilvra but that is a very special group of parents. I don't think there is a PTA (much less a private school) that can raise funds like that. In this case, their PTA is definitely providing beyond what any fed/state/local funding does but it certainly is not the norm for your garden-variety PTA.

seattle citizen said...

I agree, Melissa, that this is far beyond the norm for PTAs, and perhaps shouldn't have been used for comparison, The two schools came up, and I was challenged to do some research...

If anyone thinks that I think some schools are garden party spa resorts due to PTA's largesse, I am far from the belief. I belief PTAs can and do provide some extra things, pencils, trips, ice cream...maybe a tutor once a week or something...

My problem is when they become an integral part of the education model of the school. Then I wonder why the district doesn't pay for the appropriate model, what sort of deals are made for schools that can afford this...why, in effect, a part of the student's education is now privatized.

That makes me think.

seattle citizen said...

I don't know how many elementaries have 1.0 FTE librarians, Kand4mom. I used a 250 student school and a 500 student school to illustrate the economy of scale: Why would they both have a 1.0 librarian? What is the optimal librarian/student ratio?

cas said...

There is a disagreement at our school. Keep funding a librarian at 1.0 or cut other things.

This librarian is a lovely person and well loved by our staff. No one wants to see her time cut, but at what point do we keep funding for a librarian at 1.0? Our Primary classes are full at 28, we will loose a well-loved program, and a portion of our tiny .2 nurse.

Supposedly, we are middle class to affluent school.

seattle citizen said...

There is disagreement at EVERY school. Rough budgets were due 3/19 and final budgets are due Thursday. Principals spent part of yesterday at the budget "roundtable" or whatever it's called yesterday, hashing out the numbers together. What is evident (and expected) is that most if not all school budgets are losing FTE. And that's just the WSS; additional cuts occur from the loss of centrally funded programs.

Disagreement is, of course, the result: there are much loved staff being displaced everywhere, the question being, "who do we cut?"

This emotion-laden decision is being made by BLTs and staffs everywhere right now. We can all do our best to support these staffs, and the displaced yet still loved educators; I'm sure it would be appreciated.

But you all know that; you care. that's why you're reading this.

whittier07 said...

From the SPS website:


http://www.seattleschools.org/area/budget/goldbook/10/sec1.pdf

If you scroll down to page 10, it shows that ALL elementary schools (even the large schools that have more than 472 students) are only funded for a .5 librarian. ARGH! This is crazy!

CAS: what program is your school losing?

cas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle citizen said...

A new thread might be created to chronicle losses in each school as we become aware of them. This might help clarify what is lost, what choices schools make...not as a judgemental thing, but as both a memorial wall and a list of things deemed essential at one point but now lost; things we need to work to get back.

seattle citizen said...

To that end, as there are many schools unrepresented here on this blog, perhaps bloggers could poll their friends and find out what's lost in all the schools.

seattle citizen said...

and find out what's lost in central services? (non-school based educators: coaches, JSCEE staff...

Megan Mc said...

Does anyone else think it is weird that they are doing the budget before the enrollment numbers are in? I realize that AS#1's case is an extreme one since there are so many variables but it seems to me that many other schools will be affected by the last round of closures. No one knows where displaced students will end up and which families have to change schools because of the new start times. There could be a lot more shuffling of teachers and staff in the fall once the enrollment numbers stabilize. Are any other schools worried about enrollment numbers affecting their final budget?

old salt said...

Budgets have always been done before enrollment. Under Weighted Student formula, budgets were readjusted in the fall when student counts came in. Under WSS budgets are based on district predictions of student numbers. There is no adjustment in the fall. Last year some NE schools ended up with 50 -100 more students than they were budgeted for. Some schools were even pushed into a larger school category, but there was no more money for them.

BadgerGal said...

Old Salt
That is my understanding as well. The only way to get "more" in the fall is to take it from some other school - good luck with that one!

Our school is getting an additional kindergarten class next year based on cluster demographics but the enrollment numbers don't reflect it in the 09/10 worksheets. We are down 2 FTEs BEFORE this extra class comes in.

The PTA is funding the librarian up to the 1.0 (we were given 0.5) as well as other staff positions. We are also strongly considering a pay for play instrumental music fee for 4th and 5th graders, sliding scale.

BUT- CALL YOUR LEGISLATORS TODAY - they vote today on a bill of intent that sets the stage for fixing this mess (at least partially) when the economy turns around.

cas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BadgerGal said...

Cas,

I'm not sure how our principal/BLT is working out the actual payments or how it will all be entered into the budget system downtown. I just know the PTA is funding the value of 0.5 Librarian, along with several others.

Josh Hayes said...

FYI, it is possible to request a waiver from the district if a school wants to shuffle the certified FTEs around -- last year we at AS1 were assigned a 0.5 counselor and a 0.5 librarian, which we asked to have changed into a 1.0 FTE certified teacher (and that was granted). So we did without any librarian or counselor, but got an "extra" teacher to reduce our class sizes. YMMV.

cas said...

Imagine that.... Getting by without a librarian and gaining a teacher.

The staff at our school will not give up our full time librarian until she is prided from their cold dead hands.

seattle citizen said...

Josh, waivers (used) to be possible, and I understand that they still are, in certain circumtances. Some positions are district-mandated (for instance, the new Academic Dean position in HSs is not....waiverable?)

But I believe that while fuding si centralized as to how MANY FTE, site-baed decision making on the use of that FTE is still relatively flexible, as people on-sire would better know their needs.

But as Cas points out, with these diminished budgets, you get to a point where you really can't do much: trade 0.5 librarian for 0.5 cert? When budgets are so thin,the FTE a school is granted is pretty much bare-bones in all categories, anyway...Some Alts might, because of their familiarity with different scenarios such as interdisciplinary ed, etc, be better prepared to make creative choices, but overall I think we're looking at barebones all around, for now.

Megan Mc said...

Josh,

AS#1 is getting 5 teachers from Summit - one middle school, one elementary, one primary, and two .5 art teachers (ceramics and graphic arts) so we didn't feel the need to waive the librarian and councilor this year. Plus, the possibility of a library PCP for the young kids was appealing and the teachers were hoping to get someone with a strong IT back ground to help with technology skills for the older kids.